The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-posterthe year: 2013
the directing: Peter Jackson
the writing: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro
the acting: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage

I remember liking most of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, expect for that ending which in my opinion was utter bullshit, the entire film was about getting to this “Lonely Mountain” and reclaiming the treasure, but then it ends with the group only gazing at the wintery hill from quite some distance. Anyways, what I’m trying to say is the film wasn’t bad. Though my anticipation was not all that high for Desolation of Smaug – I’m yet to see one of these Hobbit movies in theaters – I was fairly certain I’d catch it on the rental stage.

Desolation of Smaug is very much the filler flick spotted with a couple riveting action sequences here and there. There was a lot of walking, a lot, but fortunately for us when it comes to that particular verb Peter Jackson is the best. Honestly, I cannot imagine watching this exercise-filled film without the prior knowledge of The Lord of the Rings series (or doing something as crazy as reading the book). Alluding references often pop up everywhere throughout Desolation of Smaug with very little context or explanation, piling an immense amount of weight on the third and final installment of this trilogy. I’m not saying Jackson won’t deliver, but please do not attempt at home.

Representation was quite interesting this time around. Saying Martin Freeman took a backseat might be too aggressive of a statement, but without a doubt his spotlight did some dwindling, to the likes of let’s say Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, or even Aidan Turner. Not a fall from grace, as all key moments run through his character solidifying the series title’s purpose. Besides Cumberbatch bringing the refined voice, Bloom the nostalgia, and Lilly the beauty (with a punch), there is not too much more to say about Desolation of Smaug. It set’s up a big finish, I see a lot of death in this near future…

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) directed by Peter Jackson

 

 

10 Years

ten-years-poster01the year: 2012
the directing: Jamie Linden
the writing: Jamie Linden
the acting: Channing Tatum, Justin Long, Oscar Isaac

My memory’s drawing a blank for when I first saw this trailer, it was a while ago, I know that much. The film definitely looked buddy buddy, but at the same time incorporated many actors that have the ability to make any film enjoyable. Think the cast list of Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve, but the indie version, and add believability… for the most part. My opinion is still up in the air whether or not ensemble pieces should make a comeback, but it’s still nice to once and a while transport myself back to the 80’s and enjoy a film for what it is.

10 Years tells the tale of that oh so dreaded high school reunion, following the stories of ten plus characters throughout the night – simple premise, complex execution. Almost the exact definition of biting off more than you can chew. With a runtime of 100 minutes, trying to conclude every story arc regrettably withholds all characters from their three dimensional goal, as we are only susceptible to their outlying facade. All payoffs are seemingly polarized before they happen, manifesting close to no surprise, falling into the trap of doing exactly what the audience expected.

I have always been a sap for singing scenes in films, really anything works for me. Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn DavisDrive) is given the honor in 10 Years, singing his “big hit song” to the girl he never landed in high school (actually, his timeline is the most interesting as well). The song’s nice enough and impressively ties together a slow-paced arc along the way. There wasn’t too much to be impressed by, the writing was lacking, and the editing needed a little work, but if we’re trying to find some sort of saving grace I would refer back to the cast. It’s a joy watching them work and making a movie for basically nothing, or in a word, “fun.”

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10 Years (2012) directed by Jamie Lindin

 

 

Robin Hood

robin_hood_xlgthe year: 2010
the directing: Ridley Scott
the writing: Brian Helgeland, Ethan Reiff & Cyrus Voris
the acting: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong

Good thing this happened. The world needed another Robin Hood movie, there have been so few up to this moment in time (sarcasm). As far as I’m concerned the one and only Robin Hood is the 1973 Disney classic, you know, the one where he’s a fox, man that was a good flick… Even more disconcerting was the lack of remnants to the actual tale we’re all aware of, or as they call it nowadays, “reimagining.” Ridley Scott does have him wear green, so that’s a start.

Robin Hood (Crowe), a disgruntled but skilled archer, abandons the English army of King Richard the Lionheart to start a life anew with his band of comrades. While on the run, they witness an ambush, take the identities of the dead, yada yada yada, he becomes Lord of Nottingham. My recollection of Robin Hood has always been, “steal from the rich to give to the poor.” Throughout the film there is really only one instance of this notion, and it feels more like a cop-out than anything else, like they had to put it in so the film’s premise made some sort of sense. Really what Robin Hood ends up being is your run of the mill swords and shields costume drama, with the words “Robin Hood” painted on the exterior.

This is weird for me, I’m normally a huge fan of the Crowe/Scott collaboration, we’re talking GladiatorAmerican Gangster, and Body of Lies was fine. They can’t all be golden, especially when you’re trying to start a Robin Hood franchise with a 50 year old taking the title role. But I’m a nice guy, I’ll give them a pass. Unfortunately with Ridley’s lineup of films he is yet to do, we won’t be seeing this combo anytime in the near future, on the other hand a breather might do them nicely.

Robin Hood (2010) directed by Ridley Scott

 

 

Kick-Ass 2

Kick_Ass_2_Poster_7_12_13the year: 2013
the directing: Jeff Wadlow
the writing: Jeff Wadlow
the acting: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

You know what’s cool man? Making a shitty movie for the money. We do what we have to do, right? The first Kick-Ass had a few things going its way – story, characters, dialog – they all contributed to an overall success, but none greater than your good old fashioned shock value. Graphic violence is nothing new to the comic book film, we’ve seen it before from the likes of The Punisher or Blade trilogy, yet those films share a common factor, tone. Their darkness or grittiness prepares the audience for what’s about to happen and what they’re going to see, not Kick-Ass. It maintained the cheesy nature of a 90’s superhero flick while surprising everyone with violence of an absurd level. Kick-Ass 2 was of no surprise.

All three childish main characters reprise their roles for Kick-Ass 2, attempting to bring back any amount of flame not already exhausted from the first one. Basically director (and writer I might add) Jeff Wadlow thought he only needed the addition of camaraderie and teenage girls in high school to make his story original, didn’t work. What we ended up getting was the defective version of Kick-Ass filled with issues I could not give two shits about, literally (kind of). Moretz’s character is dealing with high school insecurities we’ve heard time and time again, Taylor-Johnson you could almost tell could not care less about the movie, and Mintz-Plasse is playing the same character he should never have gotten the first time around. And I guess Jim Carrey was in there for shits and giggles.

I’m not totally sure what to say next… I guess some surprising facts will do. I was a bit thrown off my game finding out Kick-Ass 2 was made for $28 million, this astonishment is actually a double-edged sword, on the one hand they created the entire film for only $28 million, on the other hand they wasted $28 million to create this film. Shockingly (but more unfortunate than anything) the film got out of the red, generating $60 mill in the box office – you can’t see, but I’m sighing quite deeply for effect. Now, the biggest and most flabbergasting fact came to me while I was reading through the producer list and happened to stumble upon the name of a rather large A-lister in Hollywood. I’ll give you a minute to guess… (turns out he produced the first one too, a good use of money). The smart investor’s name is Brad Pitt. A quick note on that, Pitt also produced titles such as The Time Traveler’s WifeEat Pray Love, and World War Z, so take that as you will – to be fair he also produced some good stuff like The Departed and 12 Years a Slave – but I can still tool on him for producing this piece of shit.

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Kick-Ass 2 (2013) directed by Jeff Wadlow

 

 

Repo Men

repo_menthe year: 2010
the directing: Miguel Sapochnik
the writing: Eric Garcia & Garrett Lerner
the acting: Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Alice Braga

I went into this not expecting much, I knew the premise and was aware of its general negative reception, plus Repo Man was cool (for those thinking, “what, sequel?!” no no, that would be false). It is now years ago when the trailer peaked my interest a bit, Jude Law was a big name and the story seemed cool enough, but mostly it was a futuristic action film, one that involved myriads of violence attracting my teenage mind. I’m not entirely sure what brought me back to the interest, perhaps a taste of nostalgia… or to see Forest Whitaker be a badass.

In the near future of 2025 technology has advanced far enough for bio-mechanical organs to be invented and perfected allowing those with anything from a failing vital or busted knee a second chance. Yet this new fangled generosity comes at a cost, an expensive cost. Those who cannot afford the cost are put on a payment plan, and those who cannot make their payments are met by the repo men – their job is simple, take the organs back. Law and Whitaker play repo men who are the best of the best at what they do, no remorse, no mercy, the only thing that matters is the job. But what happens when a repo man falls behind on his payments?

Repo Men was actually an enjoyable ride through a futuristic tall tale, trying to make statements about class inequality and morality in the process. Although the points of these social issues have been displayed time and time again in films left and right, they remained as undertones to the story itself. Normally I’d lean the other way, but clearly this film is not the right format to make me care about such things, all knifes and guns were pretty distracting. There are holes in the story and maybe a twist that tries to defy Hollywood conventions purely for that reason, but at least I got to root for something for a little more than an hour. And I got it right, going in not expecting much was the way to go.

Repo Men (2010) directed by Miguel Sapochnik

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